Photographs in Public Buildings

Little PO BoxesWhen you go in to Roslindale Post Office, you see a wall consisting mainly of Post Office™ Boxes. Since they are rather lovely old boxes, I’ve been wanting for a while to photograph them.

Now, I am of a anxious nature, and eager to avoid a one-way trip to Guantánamo Bay, and Uncle Sam,who of course owns US post offices, is of a suspicious nature these days. So I asked the very pleasant person who served me if I might be allowed to photograph the boxes.

She told me that permission was required to take photos in Post Offices. I asked who I needed permission from, she told me that it was the manager, went to ask said manager, and returned a minute later to say that permission had been granted.

After snapping the PO boxes, I went to the nearby and recently-renovated Roslindale Community Center. As an aside about community/public access, shouldn’t a community center have a web site? There are a few details on various pages, but I was unable to find a site that told me about services, hours, etc.

I went in, asked if I could take some photos, was told that I could and asked why I wanted to. I took one of the front desk (and no, I’m not sure why the word of the day was venal). I also took one outside, although I didn’t feel I had to ask permission to do that. (I actually took more than that, but only posted those two to Flickr. And no, the map image isn’t here by mistake in place of either of them; it’s from

Rozzie LibraryOn a roll, and having some books to return, it was on to the library. There, I was told that I was not allowed to take pictures inside the library without permission from HQ. I was given a phone number there. I didn’t call the number. Instead, I looked up the photography policy on the BPL web site: We are happy to have you take photographs of our buildings for your enjoyment but… (follow the link to see the restrictions; they seem rather reasonable to me). Anyway, I contented myself with taking a photo of the outside of the library.

It has since occurred to me that I should go to the USPS site to seek the Post Office’s official photography policy, but I find it hard to find simple information (such as the postage to airmail a birthday card to one’s mother in the UK) at that site. But that’s another post…

6 thoughts on “Photographs in Public Buildings”

  1. With all due respect to the hard working staff at the Roslindale branch, they are a bit of an odd bunch and seem worried about small things. I am still trying to figure them out.

  2. Well, you never know what a subversive will do with internal snapshots of the Roslindale branch of the BPL. You can see why the USPS wasn’t so concerned: information just passes through thier establishment while the Rozzie libray is a hallowed repository contining the bulk and the sum of the community’s collective knowlege. Saboutage this bunker of learning and southwestern Boston may collapse. Nice work librarians! You put the ‘lib’ in Liberty and Library.

  3. Many photography problems encountered these days are a fallout of the 9-11 incident. As a reporter and webmaster for a national railroad lobby I have encountered many stories associated with innocent rail fans taking images of passing trains only to be interdicted and questioned by authorities.

    Federal buildings are especially sensitive. State and city facilities to a lesser extent, though there are exceptions.

    Indeed until recently, to take photos within MBTA stations you needed a permit and background check – I kid you not. Presently a photo ID on your person is enough but best to notigfy the station personnel first.

    Beyond that, I post to note that I am in process of setting up the web site for the Roslindale Community Center which is a project the center’s community oversight council has actually been considering in recent history and which I recently got off the ground using the facilities of “Google Sites” to allow for simple editing by the non-techies.

    I will shortly register a domain name for it.

    For now it can be reached (temporarily) at:

    It is a work in progress and much is yet to be added but this will answer the general questions regarding hours, directions, membership, and available programs, as well as whop to e-mail or phone fo rmore info.

    DMK (my own community portal effort in the works)

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